Zacuto USA The New Standard 2014-04-23T21:44:48Z http://www.zacuto.com/feed/atom WordPress Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Zacuto Highlights From NAB 2014]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29939 2014-04-23T21:44:48Z 2014-04-22T20:56:21Z Zacuto Highlights From NAB 2014NAB 2014 was a fantastic experience! We love putting faces to names and being able to chat with you all in person. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the Zacuto booth.

To those of you at home, thank you for following us throughout the week on social media. Hopefully we gave you a taste of the show floor!

We’ll be sending updates as soon as we have information on new product pricing and release dates. We’re currently aiming for a Fall release for most new items. Stay up-to-date with our newsletter and social media – Twitter, Facebook, and Vimeo.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response to our new Gratical, Tripods and VCT Universal baseplate. Watch this interview from Dan Chung and Teradek with Zacuto owners and product designers, Steve and Jens, talking about these new products.

Check out these other interviews from your favorite bloggers and reviewers! Wide Open Camera, Newsshooter, No Film School, B&H Photo, Bay Tiger, Cinema 5D, Lens Pro Lab.

The Gratical HD micro-OLED EVF

The Gratical HD EVF won NewBay Media’s Best in Show Award from Digital Video and was definitely the hit of the week! We put the 1280×1024 HD resolution and micro-OLED screen of our Gratical up against the RED Bomb and an Alphatron for comparison.

The Zacuto Gratical HD OLED EVF

Here’s what people had to say..

Incredible quality from the @Zacuto Gratical HD OLED viewfinder. Can’t wait to stock them!
- hireacamera, UK rental company

Unbelievable quality out of this @Zacuto EVF!!! #nab2014 must see.
- Lan Bui, filmmaker and blogger

The new @Zacuto Gratical HD EVF is the real deal. I want!
- Erik Naso, filmmaker and blogger

Best viewfinder @NAB 2014
- Steve Cahill, digital media creator

Just saw the Gratical EVF from @Zacuto and it is incredible! Such a drastic improvement over earlier EVFs.
- Clint Till, DP and director

 

 

Zacuto Tripods

Our new Z18, Z12 and Z8 tripods also were very popular. In the image above, you can see the Z18 model with an ARRI eyepiece leveler and front box from Hot Rod. The mounts to attach these essential accessories are included exclusively with the Z18 model. Check out our tripods in action in this interview from HD Video Pro magazine. (Skip to 2:25 for tripod-specific info!)

VCT Universal Baseplate

The VCT Universal baseplate was the quiet hero at the Zacuto booth. Its sleek lines, comfortable shoulder pad and incredible balance received kudos all around. The VCT Universal features a long sliding track for camera placement and a sliding top plate for additional adjustment. The rod mount is set back 3” further than on any other VCT style baseplate providing essential accessory room under your camera lens.

Zacuto VCT Baseplate

In this NAB photo (above) from our friends at CineDigital.TV, you can see the Canon C300 is set far back on the VCT Universal for balance with the large Canon lens. The recessed rod mount still allows for a lens support, even in this tricky-to-balance setup. This could be the only baseplate you’ll ever need.

Digital Bolex D16

We were thrilled to host the new Digital Bolex D16 in our booth at NAB. We love how this camera combines a true sense of nostalgia with stunning modern technology. Here’s what the team at Bolex has to say about their new camera:

The D16 combines legendary Bolex quality with the best in digital technology to bring you unrivaled image quality for its class. The D16 captures and preserves image detail with stunning accuracy that gives your footage an organic look.

The Zacuto designers had a great time tricking out this camera for our booth! In this Bolex D16 first look video, we discuss both the camera and some compatible Zacuto accessories like our Mini Baseplate and Half Cage.

Control Grip and Z-Motor

Due to Zacuto’s high quality standards, our new Control Grip and Z-Motor were not ready for NAB but they’ll be at CineGear this upcoming June. The Control Grip attaches next to or underneath your lens and offers the ability to start and stop the camera, has five programmable camera function buttons and a joystick for full menu control on most cameras. We will be offering proprietary control cable options for a variety of cameras including most DSLRs, Sony F5/F55/F65, ARRI Amira/Alexa, RED Epic/Scarlet, and Canon C100/C300/C500.

Control Grip and Z-Motor

The New Zacuto Control Grip (left) and Z-Motor (right)

An optional Z-Motor accessory attaches to your lens and to the Control Grip via a cable to mimic traditional rocker zoom control, like an ENG style lens. Stay tuned for more information and a first look video coming soon!

The Return of Critics and Much More!

NAB 2014 also heralded the return of the much loved Zacuto web series [+critics]. In three sessions, hosted by Teradek, our very own Steve Weiss and Philip Bloom, a London based Cinematographer and Filmmaker, came together as dueling co-hosts to candidly critique web based video content. The duo watched shorts about the art of making guitars, love (of course), the story of New York’s oldest cab driver and more. Watch all three sessions and tell us which clip is your favorite!

Steve and Jens spent some time On The Couch with Bruce Logan, ASC, Rodney Charters, ASC, and the Cinema5D team. The group discussed gear, 4K, lighting, the role of the Director of Photography on modern film sets, and so much more. Watch the full On The Couch discussion here.

Steve and Jens from Zacuto

Steve also took the time to talk GH4 and so much more with Dave Helmly from Adobe and Matt Frazer from Panasonic during a Live@NAB Google+ hangout. (I-spy a Zacuto rig on that camera on the image above!)

Want to learn about the new 4K Lumix GH4 from Panasonic? Watch our First Look video here.

If you have any specific questions about our new gear or or an existing product please email sales@zacuto.com or call us at 312 863 3452. Stay up-to-date with our newsletter and social media – Twitter, Facebook, and Vimeo.

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Zacuto Axis and Half Cage Review by Jon Pandone]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29944 2014-04-16T18:47:03Z 2014-04-16T17:31:34Z Zacuto Axis and Half Cage ReviewWhen I started writing DPBLOG, I thought it might be a good idea to do some product reviews. There are lots of “first impression” type reviews on the web. I love reading these because there is always some new gear coming out with new features, and I get really excited about the creative possibilities that emerge from this new technology.

For the sake of being a little bit different, I decided I would like to review a product that I have owned for a while.

I think it’s important to speak on the performance of a product over a long period of time in a production environment.  Since video production shifted from being a hobby, to being my livelihood, I have taken a different approach to buying new gear.  I used to want to try every new rig and accessory that came out, and a lot of my purchase decisions were based on an equation of:

price / features = value

After a lot of pieces were broken or damaged on set, I started to learn that there are more variables to the equation. Reliability has to be factored in. When something breaks under warranty, there is yet another variable; customer service.  So now the equation looks more like this:

price / (features X reliability X customer service)  = value

Every purchase for the company is an investment. We only buy the gear we will use often. Things that we use every day have to be rugged and reliable. Repair or replacement has to be fast and affordable.

Zacuto Axis and Half Cage by Jon Pandone

So, I was thinking about a few pieces of gear I own that turned out to be a good investment. One of them was the Zacuto EVF. I’ve used it everywhere, on the beach, in the rain, during a blizzard, I’ve even dropped it in the snow! After two years of use, it still works exactly like the day I bought it. I really like using the viewfinder when I’m outside in the sun.There’s just a few things I’ve done to keep the screen in good shape; I always cap it, or point it down (away from the sun) when I don’t have my eye on it. When I’m not using it, I store it in a hard case with foam insulation to protect it from getting smashed by a C-stand or some other mishap during transport.

I’ve always wanted to use the Z-finder with my shoulder mount, but I find it hard to get it into the right position, and get it to stay there when I’m moving. It’s just a pain fiddling with a regular articulating arm, so a lot of times I just use the EVF alone, and as a result, my footage is probably not always as sharp as it could be. After being frustrated with the situation, I started to look at some of the available EVF knuckles out there. I wanted something that could get the eyepiece to the right place, and keep it there.  I’m always looking for a quick-release for these types of accessories, because I find that if it takes too long to set them up, I seldom use them on an actual shoot because they slow me down too much.

Zacuto Half Cage ReviewZacuto let us borrow the Axis EVF Mount to use on a few different types of productions, and along with it,  they sent the Half Cage and a quick-release shoe mount.  My experience with this rig was extremely positive, and I’m excited to tell you about the ways that it was useful on set.

We’re working on a television show called “Let’s Go Youngstown” that covers local business, entertainment, and  events. We do a lot of interviews and coverage of live events for the show and the Half Cage lived on my rails until the day I had to send it back. I really liked the wooden handle, it gives a solid point of contact whether I’m shooting hand-held or just carrying the rig between setups. The Z-Rail on top of the cage is a really nice system for adding and removing accessories quickly. I attached all kinds of things to the shoe mount, like an on-camera light, a microphone shock mount, and a wireless receiver. The quick release is really sturdy, it only takes a half-turn to lock it down and it provides a very solid connection to your rig. A half-turn in the opposite direction unlocks the quick release and you can pop it right off.

The Axis attached to the Z-Rail in the same fashion, and the design of the double-sided Z-Rail allows you to rotate the way you mount it. This is hard to describe, but it gives you a few different options to get the monitor in just the right position, with the best range of adjustability. The Axis has several joints, and you can vary the friction on each joint by tightening each individual knob. This is really useful, because you can dial in just enough resistance to hold up the monitor, but not so much that it’s hard to adjust on the fly.

The Axis definitely solved my problem of not being able to use the EVF eyepiece comfortably on a shoulder mount. I was able to reach up over the awkward DSLR camera body and drop it right in the most comfortable position for my neck and back, and the Axis held position. I didn’t have the problem of the EVF unscrewing or falling out of alignment, it actually made me want to use the Z-Finder with my EVF more often, and the resulting footage was sharper.

Zacuto Half Cage

My favorite way to use the Half Cage was actually in a hand-held configuration with another handle, upside down on the opposite side, diagonal to the wooden grip. This configuration feels very solid and mobile. It lends well to following action in a tight space. The best thing about this cage is it’s adjustability. You can fly a DSLR with a battery pack, a 1DC, or a prosumer camcorder, and you can always adjust the dimensions of the cage so that it’s not bigger than it has to be. I used this cage with the Canon 600D which is one of Canon’s smaller DSLR’s and the cage wrapped around it quite nicely. I was able to position it in a way that I could access the memory card slot, and still reach all the buttons comfortably. Since DSLR’s take a  very menu  driven approach to adjusting all the settings, having something in the way of your buttons can really slow you down. I had a different cage that I literally hand to stick my hand inside of to adjust ISO, and color temp, etc. This was really awkward and I eventually stopped using the other cage. With the Zacuto Half Cage, I can access all the buttons without taking my hand off the grip.

The finished wooden grip is very attractive, and it’s also very comfortable. The construction is lightweight, but rigid. I have built very heavy rigs around this cage, and it feels quite sturdy. The Half Cage saves a lot of time on set. Being able to convert and adapt the rig quickly means more setups in a single day. This was definitely a useful addition to our kit, and I really enjoyed using it.

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Jon Pandone worked as an editor and camera operator for a small production company in NE Ohio for a number of years, before forming DP Visual Media: a production company/ad agency that specializes in tv commercials and multicam coverage of live events. During winter and spring he works as a DP on a television show called Let’s Go Youngstown. Jon is taking the summer of 2014 off to work on an independent film called “Lab Work” by Kwai Daniels. You can read about these projects and more at dpvisualmedia.com – our DPBLOG features Behind the scenes footage, production tips, and DIY projects for the independent filmmaker.

Let’s Go Youngstown premieres this Spring. Stay updated at: https://www.facebook.com/SMOKESTACKSPRO?fref=ts

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Student Filmmaker Series: Part 3 – One Piece At A Time: What Gear Do You Need To Make Great Film?]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29896 2014-04-10T20:36:40Z 2014-04-10T19:32:08Z Student Filmmaker Series: Part 3 - One Piece At A TimeTo make a technically gorgeous film you need gear. This is a crash course on film gear. (And an homage to my former University of Missouri professor, David Rees, who hoped that one day I’d pay attention to technique. David, you were right.)

When I started Journalism school, I thought I could get by with my Pentax K1000 film-camera. A few weeks in, I realized I would need a DSLR, so I got a Nikon D70.

Every couple of months I’d see something and ask how did they do that? I would burrough my head down and research the heck out of technical stuff I didn’t understand.

I would understand 10 percent of what I read. It took me years to figure out all the things I needed to make technically sound documentary film. I know you are just starting out and you are on a crazy tight budget, so I’m giving you lots of options. This is by no means a conclusive list, and I look forward to hearing recommendations and suggestions from other industry professionals.

DSLR CameraDSLR camera: You need a DSLR camera. DSLR simply means the camera utilizes digital single-lens reflex technology. DSLR’s offer a shallow depth of field, larger ISO range, usable manual options, intuitive functions, and lens flexibility. When you look for undergraduate or graduate schools, ask if their students have access to DSLR cameras. How long will you get to use them? Will you have access to lenses? Many schools work with Nikon to offer the University locker program so that you can use professional gear while enrolled in classes.

I’ve had talented students in past years who didn’t have access to DSLR cameras that used point and shoots for their final projects. They did the best with what they could, and I saw their potential. On their 30th anniversary, Apple released a commercial that was shot entirely on an iPhone. It’s a beautiful commercial, but the headlines are misleading because, while the commercial was shot with an iPhone, they equipped 15 camera crews across the world with 100 iPhones to collect 70 hours of footage. 21 editors worked to produce the commercial with an original score and a room full of Apple technology and brilliant artists. You can use your iPhone or a point and shoot camera in a pinch for some of your footage but you need a DSLR camera. Period.

You will find lots of information about the Canon – Nikon debate. I’m a Canon shooter. If you’re working on a student budget, I recommend the Canon 60D (body only) for $700. If you have more to spend, I suggest you invest in the Canon 5D Mark III. When you look for a DSLR, consider the following factors: How long can it record video? (The 60D only records 12 minutes of video.) Does it have an XLR adaptor for external mics? What is the image resolution?

DSLR Rig

DSLR rig: You need a DSLR rig to prevent shaky shots and to achieve razor sharp focus with a shallow depth of field. Don’t hand hold your shots. This one is non-negotiable. Zacuto is the industry leader in DSLR rigs, so head over to this page to learn more about your options. I prefer the Zacuto Z-finder Pro over a monitor for focusing on my subjects because it’s more important to me that I hold the camera close to my body to keep my shots fluid and to maintain an unobtrusive rig. I like shooting mardi gras, river parties, conflict, parades, action (always action) and anything that involves lively people.

I like to run and gun and I’m often alone since I like stories in intimate places. I choose DSLR rigs over steadicams because I want my subjects to forget that I have a camera. If I want a gorgeous aerial shot, I’ll use a drone (a girl can dream) or I’ll rent a glidecam.

Audio gear: You have to collect perfect audio. You need to eliminate noise, record crisp interviews and gather rich ambient sound. Your in-camera audio recorder is not adequate. You will need sound gathering devices for ambient sound and for interviews.

Ambient: If you’re working alone, and you must use your DSLR camera to collect ambient audio, use a condenser microphone (for example, the Rode VideoMic Pro for about $230) on your camera so that you get decent sound and minimize noise.

Interviews: For your interviews you have to use a lavalier (microphone that your subject wears on their collar). If you can’t afford a professional Sennheiser lavalier you can get by with a Rode SmartLav lavalier for $60 that plugs into your iPhone. You can purchase the Rode app for $4.99.

SD cards: You will need at least three 32 GB SD flash cards for making a film. Get the fastest cards possible so you’re not in the field waiting to record data.

Camera bag: Before I bought a camera bag I lost EVERYTHING. It was just plain stupid. I have the LowePro Passport Sling and I’m obsessed. I can fit a small rig, my audio gear, an extra lens, my cards, and my DSLR in this discreet and super convenient shoulder bag. It’s way smaller than my yoga bag and a tenth of the size of most purses.

Neutral density filters: Neutral density filters give you more control over your aperture options. You have to get neutral density filters to match your lenses. You could read about neutral density filters from now until the end of time. I love Peter Hill’s resource for learning about your options and why neutral density filters are essential.

Fixed, shallow depth of field lens: You want to use a shallow depth of field (F 1.4 or 1.8) that allows your viewer to focus on the topic. You can get a 50mm 1.8 lens for under $100.

Wide angle to zoom lens: You need a wide angle lens for visual variety. I like the 24-70 F 2.8 for $2,200. I know! I promised you affordable. I also like the 24-105 F 4 for under $800.

Monopod: Stabilizers are essential for shooting action, people, parties, parades and movement. I love monopods for sense of place shots that don’t chase the action. I like to wander around town and chill out to film the colors and mood of that place. For this meditative part of shooting I prefer the Manfrotto 561B for $300. It’s intuitive, quick and super sturdy. I can get out of the middle of the road stat when a semi comes barrelling down the road or I can fluidly pan up an open corn field across a Missouri sunset.

Manfrotto

Hosting: Hosting is where you will keep your website to organize, describe and publish your film. My favorite company is Laughing Squid because I can call them on the phone, send them an email, or Tweet at them when I have technical issues. When they write me back, it’s usually some nice guy named Matt. Maybe it’s not really Matt, but I believe him and I love it.I use Vimeo for publishing my videos, but I use my website to embed and publicize them. Sending people to your Vimeo page without a personal website is straight janky.

Domain: Your domain name is your website’s address. Mine is www.beatrizwallace.com  I suggest you buy your name.com right now. I like Hover because they’re used to working with Laughing Squid hosting, are semi-tiny and always respond to my needs.

Here is your final wish list:

  • DSLR camera: $700
  • DSLR rig: $700 – $2300
  • Audio: (starter) ambient sound ($230) and lavalier ($80) = $310
  • SD cards: $60
  • Camera bag: $80
  • ND filters: $200
  • Lenses: $900
  • Monopd: $300
  • Hosting: $72/year
  • Domain: $15/year

Total: $3,337 – $4,937

And that’s why filmmakers drive ‘95 Subaru statwags. Keep your eye on the prize, fellow filmmaker. You got this.

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Student Filmmaker Series

Read Part 1: Five Young Storytellers You Have to Know

Read Part 2: So, You Majored in Media. Now What?

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Student Filmmaker Series: Five Ways to Master The Post-Production Process coming soon…
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Beatriz Wallace is currently a Visiting Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her friends do cool stuff like take pictures of pets that need adopting at animal shelters, make movies with famous people and tell stories that matter. She worked at Cellar Stories Bookstore and Time Magazine after she graduated from Amherst College with a degree in writing and photography. She has a Master’s Degree in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. She’s from New Orleans and she’s kind of scrappy. She might be a juicer, a yoga teacher or a software developer next. And she’s okay with that. To see her work, visit www.beatrizwallace.com, follow her on Twitter @bigmuddyheart or friend her on Facebook (Beatriz Wallace).

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[BOSCPUG, Emerson College, Zacuto and an Academy Award Winning Filmmaker]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29882 2014-04-09T22:57:42Z 2014-04-09T14:39:27Z BOSCPUGThe Boston Creative Pro User Group just wrapped up two Emerson College events as part of BOSCPUG’s Documentary and Film Festival month in March and user group leader Daniel Bérubé called upon Zacuto to get involved in a special way.

Bérubé, an Emerson ’89 alumni, was asked by Anna Feder of Emerson’s Department of Visual and Media Arts to establish the audience award for both the IT’S ALL TRUE: Student Documentary Showcase and the 14th Annual Emerson College Film Festival.

In kind, Bérubé put together two separate packages of production and postproduction prizes for filmmakers featuring gift certificates from Zacuto (in addition to a LensProToGo rental prize and software from Adobe, Blackmagic Design, iZotope), all packaged in a filmmaker shoulder bag from Manfrotto.

“I wanted our audience award to symbolize the journey aspiring filmmakers at Emerson take to tell their stories and foster an audience to share them with,” states Bérubé. “It was natural to get Zacuto involved as an aid to empowering the student filmmaker’s creativity.”

Two time Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple – shown above -(“Harlan County, USA” in 1976 and “American Dream” in 1991) was in attendance at IT’S ALL TRUE, featuring documentary shorts by current Emerson undergraduate and graduate students. Kopple was in town to screen the Boston Premiere of “Running from Crazy,” her documentary film about the family of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. On the night of the screening following IT’S ALL TRUE at Emerson College’s Paramount Center Mainstage, Bérubé presented the first audience award to graduate student Jeremy Latour for his winning film “It Moves.”

Jeremy LatourEmerson graduate student Jeremy Latour accepts the IT’S ALL TRUE Audience Award from Daniel Bérubé of BOSCPUG and Anna Feder of Emerson’s Deptartment of Visual and Media Arts, pointing out his mom in the balcony to thank and acknowledge her among the full house of filmmakers attending. PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Munsey

Following IT’S ALL TRUE, the 14th Annual Emerson College Film Festival showcased student work over three programs at the Paramount Center. The eight-hour festival took place in the Bright Screening Room (named after Kevin Bright ’76) and was divided into three parts. Homeworlds featured four student films exploring issues of home and family. Outerworlds was a selection of six student films about other worlds and states of being. And Interworlds featured nine dramatic shorts by students that explore the nature of our interpersonal relationships.

Here, Bérubé presented the audience award to producer Pamela Mora ’16 for her film “Disorder.” Kevin Bright, “Friends” executive producer who now heads the new state of the art Emerson LA Center, was in attendance and presented Mora with a $1,000 cash prize award.

BOSCPUBDaniel Bérubé presents the BOSCPUG Audience Award to producer Pamela Mora ’16 at the 14th Annual Emerson College Film Festival for her film “DISORDER.” PHOTO CREDIT: Emerson College

This year, select student films from the festival will be submitted to the short film corner of the Cannes Film Festival. Additional films will be selected by staff, faculty, and alumni (including Bérubé) to be submitted to the Los Angeles Showcase in October. Through the summer and onwards, Bérubé will invite Latour, Mora and other student filmmakers to screen their films as part of BOSCPUG monthly events at the Paramount Center and leading up to the Los Angeles Showcase.

“The biggest joy I get out of BOSCPUG is connecting students, independent filmmakers, creative professionals from Boston and New England with top creative talent from our industry together in one room for interactive conversations and screenings,” states Bérubé. At BOSCPUG, it’s all about collaborative relationships. Students are gifts to our planet, they ground us and fuel our creative passion, so it’s important they share with us. We learn from each other.”

The Boston Creative Pro User Group (BOSCPUG) is a story driven, globally connected network connecting filmmakers and media professionals featuring top industry creatives in conversation on their craft and regularly brings top industry filmmakers and creatives to Boston to share and discuss their latest work and their workflows. Vincent Laforet, Philip Bloom, Marco Solorio, John Bailey, ASC and other filmmakers have visited BOSCPUG. Editors Alan Bell, ACE and Crispin Struthers (“American Hustle,” Silver Linings Playbook”) have also visited. In March, colorist and digital intermediate artist Juan Salvo stopped by to share his workflow on creating digital cinema packages and prepping your film for distribution. And on April 24th, director Graham Elliott will screen his award-winning documentary “New York in Motion,” share about his passion for motion graphics and his latest work, “World in Motion.” BOSCPUG also regularly holds affordable production and post-production workshops.

“At BOSCPUG we want everyone to get out their house, production offices and edit suites to come together and share,” adds Bérubé. “We’re a professional, creative outlet to pitch ideas for episodic content creation and to discover talent, crew and distribution for your projects. And I encourage all to be a part of it.”

For complete details on upcoming BOSCPUG events, visit the BOSCPUG website, and follow @boscpug on Twitter and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/bosfcpug/.

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Top 5 Tips for Getting Funded Through Kickstarter by Ryan Dean and Trevor Ward]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29736 2014-03-31T15:45:18Z 2014-03-28T15:05:54Z Top 5 Tips for getting funded through kickstarter

Our most recent film, Memories of Guantanamo, raised its seed money of $17,000 on Kickstarter.

How did we do it? The short answer is a LOT of work. We didn’t think it would be so much work! In fact, our first attempt to raise $12,000 FAILED!

Undeterred, because we knew we had a good film, we re-evaluated our approach and came back five months later. This time, we had a better video, better rewards, and we were able to reach our audience and raised more money than on our first attempt.

Many film producers don’t want to share with you their ‘secrets’ of how they got money. Here are our top 5 tips to raising money on Kickstarter:

1. Become part of a network.

Our film is about the history of the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At any given time, roughly 5000 men, women and children live on the base. By our estimation, there are roughly 100,000 Americans still alive, who have worked, went to school, or otherwise lived on the base. Those people are PASSIONATE about where they lived. Most of them regard it as one of the best places they ever lived and would go back if they could. I knew that these people were the ones likely to support a film that would put a positive spin on a place that the media has deemed controversial at best.

So,I searched and found a group on Facebook for people who used to live there. The group has 5000 members. I thought if I could reach just 10% of that group, we’d easily fund our film. In the end, we ended up only reaching about 50 people through that group. But they were strong supporters and opened our eyes to other groups and avenues of support.

2. Make a kick ass video.

If you are making a film and are asking people to give you money for the film, but your Kickstarter video sucks, do you really think people will have confidence in you as a filmmaker? Take a lesson from Hollywood. When they make a movie and start to market their movie, what do they use to entice people to watch the movie? They make a great trailer.

Also, please, for the love of everything good on this planet, make a short video. Two minutes is max! Just think of your own viewing habits. How often do you watch videos longer than two minutes? One minute? Get to the point. If you can’t articulate the point of the movie and why you’re asking for money in less than two minutes, you aren’t ready.

How do you know if your video is good? Kickstarter has analytics. 66% of the people who played our video watched the whole thing. Of the 600 people who watched our video, 25% of them made a pledge.

Get Funded Through Kickstarter3. Find champions.

The Facebook group for GITMO alums was a great find. We were honorary members of the group for 10 months. We asked a lot of questions and participated in the conversations. We cared about what they were passionate about. As a result, we found a few people who really believed in what we are doing and they championed our cause. Why is this important?

Because when I ask you to give me money because of some great thing I’m doing, it’s a self-serving ASK. If your friend Steve says, “look at what I found. It’s a great cause, you should give to it.” The ASK is not a self-serving ask. Besides, I can only send out so many emails and so many tweets and Facebook posts before I tap out my sphere of influence. But if I have a few champions, they can tap their sphere of influence as well.

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “I’d rather have 1% of the effort of 100 people than 100% of my own effort.”

4. Use Email and Social Media.

This is a big one. Everyone thinks social media is the answer to all things. Not true. Though social media is useful, it’s also hard to get noticed. The nature of the news feed makes it so that in order to reach all your friends, you’d have to post every 15-20 minutes.

So, don’t forget about good ole’ email. And remember those champions? Keeping them informed keeps them engaged. A personal touch is important and worth the time.

Top 5 Tips for Getting Funded Through Kickstarter

5. Have good rewards.

Kickstarter claims that the average pledge, statistically, is $65. On our first campaign, we had 198 backers. But we didn’t get nearly that much from each individual. One of the things we did the second time to get more money out of each person was to offer rewards that were worth more. For example, we offered a copy of the DVD for $30. We also offered two copies for $60 as a separate option. And, do you know what? Many, many people bought two!

Here’s a final bonus sixth tip I’d like to offer. Don’t think of Kickstarter pledges as donations. They are NOT donations. You are not a charity. Neither is your project. People make donations to the Red Cross, Goodwill and the United Way. If you are offering rewards like a copy of your film, or a t-shirt or whatever, then you are SELLING something. You are offering something of VALUE to your backers in exchange for their money. People made “pledges” or “contributions” to our project because they believed in the message and wanted to be involved. But, no one made a donation.

Good luck!

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Ryan Dean (DP for Memories of Guantanamo) has had a camera in his hands since he was ten years old. Shortly after graduating from film school, he found himself working alongside Academy Award-winning cinematographers. For the last decade, he’s been learning the art of storytelling, and cinematic photography from the masters. Ryan has shot all over the country, as well as internationally, working on over 300 commercials, music videos, documentaries, and features. Having a keen eye for visual aesthetics and emotional imagery, he strives to tell a story truthfully, with beauty, grace and technical prowess.

Trevor F. Ward (Director of Memories of Guantanamo) currently resides in Orlando, Florida, USA. He has directed/produced over 100 documentaries, which have taken him around the world to India, UAE, Mexico and the UK. His works have received recognition including winning an Image Award, two Telly Awards and being awarded Best Documentary (for the feature length film I Met with an Accident). Trevor’s connection to Guantanamo Bay is personal. His father spent his boyhood years living on the base along with his sister, mom and WWII veteran father. Intrigued and inspired by the personal experiences of his family, Trevor began development on a documentary film concept, which is now called, Memories of Guantanamo.

LINKS:

http://www.redeyefilmco.com
http://www.ryandean.com
Memories of Guantanamo Facebook Page
@ryanpdean
@trevorfward

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Zacuto Announces New Products for NAB 2014]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29742 2014-04-14T19:17:17Z 2014-03-27T18:20:17Z NAB 2014Zacuto’s booth at NAB 2014 was a huge success! Traffic was constantly moving and our new products had great positive response. And we won Best in Show for our new EVF, the Gratical HD.

Our Control Grip unfortunately didn’t make it due to some last minute tweaks for Zacuto’s high quality standards, but stay tuned for updates and we’ll be showcasing it at Cine Gear in June.

From the tripod to your Eye—Zacuto’s 2014 Game Changing products!!

Gratical LT & HD Micro OLED EVF’s

Watch as Steve and Jens Discuss the Gratical LT and HD EVFs

A year in the making, Steve and Jens brought five different engineering companies together to bring their latest EVF design concept to life. The Gratical LT 1024×768 (16×9 1024×576 3.3M dots) and Gratical HD 1280×1024 (16×9 1280×720 HD 5.5M dots) are the new generation super high resolution Zacuto electronic viewfinders. The Gratical uses an extremely powerful FPGA dual core processor and the latest micro-OLED displays, giving a hugely expanded contrast range with true blacks. Razor sharp optics with -1 to +4 diopter range and the latest Zacuto formula anti-fog protection. Key features include HDMI and HD-SDI in/out (HDMI cross convert to SDI), waveform, vectorscope, histogram, LUTS and much more. Custom cables allowing Gratical to get the same on-screen info as the camera’s proprietary EVF.

Control Grip and Z-Motor

Control GripBalance is everything! Without it you get fatigued—quickly. As cameras get lighter, they need to be placed further back on your shoulder in a ‘Recoil’ position, with the camera essentially behind you in order to balance it. Now, how do you control it? The Control Grip gives you start, stop and five programmable buttons for your cameras as well as a full menu control joystick. Custom cables will be available to control the Canon®, Nikon®, and Panasonic® DSLRs, Sony® F5/F55, ARRI® Amira/Alexa, RED® Epic/Scarlet, and Canon C-Series cameras.  The Control Grip is fully self-powered with swappable LP-E6 batteries.

Combine the Control Grip with our new Z-Motor attached to your lens to create a rocker style servo zoom lens similar to an ENG style lens. So now you can get control of your lens, placed where you need it for a fraction of the price of expensive large sensor ENG style lenses. You can make all your zoom lenses, from a stills zoom to a high-end cinema zoom, become precision servo zoom lenses with extensive camera control. It’s a whole new concept..

VCT Universal Baseplate

Zacuto is updating the VCT Baseplate for a whole new generation of cameras and filmmakers. Our new combination VCT Baseplate with built-in shoulder pad echos traditional ENG cameras but with a modern twist. Our sliding dovetail offers quick balance changes when swapping lenses for any camera set-up and the wide, gel shoulder pad will keep you comfortable all day long. Rods extend from the front of the plate and provide more open accessory rod space than any other VCT-style baseplate. Rods are adjustable up and down to make it universal with most cameras.

VCT Universal BaseplateCanon C300/500 Z-Finder and Accessories

The Zacuto Canon C300/C500 Z-Finder and accessories will be available for you to explore at our booth. See the amazing stability, portability and balance for yourself! Our C300/500 ‘Helmet’ kits replace the plastic Canon handle on the C300/C500 giving you a tiny Helmet cage and greatly adding stability with our new rail handle and mounting ports for Zacuto accessories. Our Z-Finder mounting kit lets you align the new C300/500 Z-Finder right to your eye. Available for pre-order and shipping soon.

Zacuto Tripods

We’re excited to announce the release of three new Zacuto Tripods! The Z8 is a fluid head with two-stage aluminum tripod, with center spreader and rubber feet. Our Z12 & Z18 are larger fluid heads with two-stage carbon fiber tripods, center spreaders and rubber feet.  Complete tripod systems will be on the show floor at NAB. These are high-end tripods, reasonably priced. The Z8, Z12, and Z18 models are equipped with graded drag and counterbalance and can carry payloads of 14 lbs, 26 lbs, and 44 lbs respectively. Zacuto accessories allow for mounting a front box and eyepiece leveler using the Zacuto Axis. Available for pre-order soon.

Tripods

Zacuto Tripod Z12 Model

 *****

Want to find out more about our exciting new products? Sign up here for our newsletter to get updates and news.

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Zacuto’s First Look: Panasonic Lumix GH4]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29687 2014-03-26T20:05:25Z 2014-03-19T20:41:04Z Panasonic Lumix GH4 First LookPanasonic representative, Matt Frazer, visited Zacuto headquarters in Chicago to give us a first look at the Lumix GH4. This latest offering from the Lumix lineup is making headlines as the first-ever (DSLM) digital single-lens mirrorless camera with built-in 4K video recording.

This Zacuto First Look video, also features the Zacuto Marauder run’n’gun rig and DSLR Recoil shoulder mounted rig. According to Matt, “Zacuto has proven to be a great partner to Panasonic and their products are top notch.”

Matt describes the GH4 as packed with all kinds of features to support both photographers and cinematographers alike. Features include a 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor, image processor capable of capturing high-resolution JPEG and RAW stills, cinematic DCI 4K 4096×2160 video at 24p, a micro four thirds image sensor & lens mount & more.

“The Panasonic GH4 will be my next go-to camera!” - Jens Bogehegn, Zacuto Product Designer

Similar to previous Lumix GH models, the micro 4/3rds GH4 is smaller than a DSLR and and has a robust magnesium alloy body. Panasonic invites “photographers and cinematographers to explore above and beyond” with the new Lumix GH4, and at a price point under $1,700 there’s no reason not to!

GH Z-Finder Pro

The GH Z-Finder Pro is compatible with the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and GH4. This optical viewfinder aids with stability and focus. The GH Z-Finder Pro allows the Panasonic GH3 and GH4 to have the correct form factor for video.

Marauder and Enforcer

The Marauder and Enforcer foldable run’n’gun DSLR rigs are perfect for the filmmaker on the go. These stabilization rigs set-up and break-down in seconds to fit in a camera bag or backpack.

DSLR Recoil

The lightweight, beautifully balanced DSLR Recoil places your camera directly over your shoulder for comfort and accessibility. The included revolutionary Zacuto Z-Drive follow focus and Tornado grip provide a unique mechanical follow focus handgrip perfect for single operator shoulder mounted work.

Want to find out more about accessories and rigs for the Panasonic Lumix GH4? Call (312) 863 3452 or email sales@zacuto.com to speak with a friendly, knowledgeable Zacuto customer service representative.

PHOTO GALLERY

Panasonic GH4    Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Zacuto Rig    Panasonic GH4 with Tripod

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Zacuto Blackmagic Gear Review]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29678 2014-03-28T16:32:59Z 2014-03-17T20:10:42Z Zacuto Blackmagic Gear Review

I recently wrapped on a feature film set in a remote motel. We knew we would be filming in tight spaces and as such had very specific equipment needs. The Zacuto products we used gave us all we hoped for and more.

As the Director of Photography (and Co-Producer) of Room 105 starring John Robinson, Lorraine Nicolson and Jonny Abrahams, my experience in run-and-gun cinematography where the name of the game is finding lightweight, fast, easy to use, and, most of all, efficient equipment was put to the test. I’m used to only getting one chance to get my shot. The last thing I wanted was for my equipment to get in my way or hold me back from delivering the high-quality images we needed.

We shot on the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera, so Zacuto sent us their latest rig for the BMCC: the Blackmagic Striker. Once we unboxed it I put the manual to the side and tried assembling it myself. It was actually fun, and the closer I got to the end the more excited I was at the possibilities. Rest assured, the process was easy – a lot easier than I expected. In no time it was built and ready to go. Once the camera was mounted, I began to see how many adjustable options the Striker kit truly provides. My particular favorite feature is the dual handgrips that can quickly adjust up or down and slide in or out. It was very nice to have that option. I quickly thought of a few scenes where I wanted to use the rig and was really excited to try it out. The particular scene I had in mind took place in a extremely tight space – the shower – with John Robinson’s character trying to bang through a wall with a sledgehammer. While the entire film needed to feel very claustrophobic and uncertain, this particular scene had to be gritty and visceral. Director Pat Mulvihill and I agreed we really wanted to see pieces of the wall flying and hitting the camera. There was going to be dust and sheet rock everywhere – what better scene to use the Striker?!

ZAcuto Blackmagic Stinger

We were not disappointed and the shot turned out great. Even with the camera mounted on the rig it was very lightweight and made it easier for me to hold steady and move quickly to get the look I needed quickly and cleanly. I adjusted the gun grip with the right side up and left side down, allowing me to do a bit of a Dutch angle handheld, and I could also get really close to the sledgehammer and the wall. It was awesome when I realized we got exactly what we wanted, with dust and particles flying right at our camera. Shots like that are fun to capture. They are never perfect, but in my mind those imperfections and the uncertainty are what moviemaking is all about.

While stabilizers create their own feeling, it is nice to see some lighter rigs you can actually control with your body. While the Striker is designed to fit into your shoulder, I would have really liked it to have an option for an actual shoulder rest – that would be a nice option for the future, particularly since the handheld BMCC needs an eyepiece or you will have to see the back of the camera – or need to add a monitor.

We also were able to use the Zacuto Blackmagic Tripod Kit, which was great, particularly for mounting our battery. It has a terrific cheese plate ready for a wide variety of mount combinations. It worked well with their Zamerican Arm, which we used for an additional monitor mount.

Zacuto Blackmagic Gear

Unfortunately, we were not able to run the EVF Flip with the BMCC simply because Blackmagic only provides an SDI output. However, this is an amazing monitor and we used it for all of our DSLR shots. I particularly love the anamorphic settings. And what can I say about the Zacuto follow focus that hasn’t been said? Luckily we could use it with all our different rigs and it is simply the best follow focus available! We used it with Zeiss Compact Prime lenses and it was a solid fit with simple adjustability that I really appreciated. Save yourself some on-set headaches and take advantage of Zacuto products; they are robust, versatile and reliable.

Thank you again to the fine folks at Zacuto for their support during the making of Room 105. It was truly a pleasure using your products.

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Camron Carrier was born in Bristol, TN he graduated from Watkins Film School in Nashville, TN. While living in Nashville, Camron became involved with country music and was hired as a photographer and worked as a freelance press photographer documenting various songwriters and bands. After moving to Los Angeles, he worked for several producers, including Bob Salerno (“Sling Blade,” “All The Pretty Horses,” “21 Grams”) and Joel Soisson (“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Piranha 3DD,” “Pulse”). Camron started his own production company in 2008, and has worked on developing over fifteen feature films. Recently he has helped produce such titles as “Unrequited,” “Hunger in America,” “Dragon Day” and “Room 105.”

Doug Fox grew up in Anderson, IN. and later attended Indiana University.  He joined a traveling basketball team and played ball in SE Asia.  He moved to Los Angeles because he wanted to live at the beach; but quickly found his passion and talent in film.  Fox is founder of Local Hero Post (“Pitch Perfect”, “Ride”) and later helmed 5th Kind (“Ender’s Game”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”).  His latest venture Another Film Fund is developing and financing indies with “Room 105” being the first installment.

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Save 50% this Spring with Zacuto Rentals!]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29667 2014-04-22T15:43:07Z 2014-03-14T19:27:17Z Save 50 percent off Zacuto RentalsZacuto Rentals is stocked up on brand-new Zacuto gear for Spring. It’s shiny and new and waiting for you! Now through the end of April, all our Zacuto-brand rigs are available to rent for half price.

We’ve got all the newest accessories, like the Z-Drive and Tornado follow focus combo and the curved, comfy, universal Quick Release Shoulder Pad. Pair these new accessories with a Zacuto rental camera* or your own camera to make a balanced and effective Recoil shoulder mounted rig. Add the new Zacuto Axis EVF mount with a Half Cage or Z-Rail mount to hold your EVF and you’re ready to rock!

Recoil rigs are compact, lightweight, shoulder mounted rigs for DSLRs, Canon C-series cameras and more. These are the perfect rig for handheld shoots in tight spaces or on the run. A Recoil rental includes a base plate compatible to your camera, the Axis EVF mount, QR shoulder pad, Z-Drive/Tornado, and an EVF. It usually rents for $125 per day, but you can take it home for half that price!

Zacuto foldable run’n’gun DSLR rigs, the Marauder and Enforcer, are also on special. These compact, easily portable DSLR rigs provide the stability you need for professional quality video. Each rig can be folded down to an easily transportable size. Throw it in your backpack and you have everything you need to create beautiful, steady shots on the go. Best of all, rent one of these fantastic rigs and we’ll include a Z-Finder Pro viewfinder rental free of charge!

Matt from Zacuto rentals looking good with a Canon C-Series Recoil RigZacuto Rentals Director, Joe, is stable and stylish with this Enforcer and Z-Finder Pro combo

This 50% off offer is valid on any and all Zacuto-gear product rentals, so don’t forget about the old standbys. We have base plate options for the Canon C300, Sony FS700 and more. We’re happy to work with you to create a rig that best fits your camera and shooting needs.

Call us at (312) 863-3453 or email rentals@zacuto.com to rent a half price Zacuto rig for your next shoot. Offer ends April 30th, 2014.

*camera rentals are not included in this promotional offer

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Eric Marsh <![CDATA[Student Filmmaker Series: Part 2 – So You Majored In Media, Now What?]]> http://www.zacuto.com/?p=29651 2014-03-13T20:38:10Z 2014-03-13T20:34:39Z You want to be a storyteller, and you’re getting the right degree, but how do you reassure yourself (and your family) that you’ll find a job when you graduate? Studying media in college is oft a sore subject at family get togethers. What will you do, make movies? What are you going to be, a wedding photographer? You know, you’ll have to live in New York if you want to find a job. Jenna majored in that and she is still working at a coffee shop. But, don’t you want health insurance? Relax, fam! There are a TON of media jobs out there. As a Journalism, Communication, Public Relations, English, Web-design, or Photography student, you are in the business of information, media and technology.

First of all, get used to saying, “I am in the business of information.”

As Michael Wolff aptly noted in his critique of Journalism degrees, “The information marketplace is going through a historic transformation, involving form, distribution, business basis and cognitive effect…” Some jobs in the information marketplace show up in keyword searches, but many don’t fit into traditional boxes. Public Relations Specialist and Fundraising Manager are fancy titles for storytellers, content developers and filmmakers for Tom’s: One for One, the local animal shelter or Runner’s World.

You might work on native advertisements and write stories about marathon training for a shoe company. You might raise money for a cause that you really care about. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salaries for public relations and fundraising managers were $95,450 in 2012 and 8,000 jobs will hit the market before 2022. The median salary for technical writers was $65,500 and they project a 15% growth rate in the next ten years. I predict that writers who make technical films will have the edge on those jobs. Archivists, curators and museum workers tout $44,410 and they predict an 11% growth rate. Be creative with your job search, and your future.

Secondly, you are in school to learn how to read, research, write, visualize, package and publish information.

These fundamental skills are desirable in a wide variety of industries. At a basic level they are the skill set of communicators. You are learning how to communicate an idea, a message, a brand, a solution to businesses and consumers. This is the skill sets of bloggers, authors, editors, users, and entrepreneurs – content originators. Companies that need content originators include media firms (news, entertainment, directories, marketing, business and trade analysis), science, technology and healthcare companies (pharmaceutical solutions, health information, clinical trial recruiting), education training and human capital management agencies (digital textbook platforms, company training, educational games) industry suppliers (business intelligence software, big data management systems, text analytics), and finance, legal and governance risk and compliance specialists (financial news, deals analysis, market research reporting).

You might work in government, healthcare, corporate or education. You might do analog, mobile, digital, print or in-person work. While you are in college, work on creating a portfolio that shows you know how to use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, data, Premiere Software and blogging to read, research, write, visualize, package and publish interesting stuff on your own website.

Thirdly, get past Craigslist if you want a grown up job.

Use Twitter. Many companies and individuals will Tweet media jobs.  Build your Twitter network to find out how potential employers think. Find companies that align with your values and style. Make your LinkedIn profile awesome and connect with people you want to be like.

I went to a workshop for women in business at Stanford University and learned a super fun and helpful game. Find three people that have cool jobs that you like. Cold call (or message) them. Tell them that you admire them and you are trying to learn about their industry and you’d like to ask them four questions:

  1. What is your favorite part of your job?
  2. What is your least favorite part of the job?
  3. What advice would you give someone just going into your field?
  4. Do you have any ideas about who else I can talk to about this industry?

Add them to your LinkedIn network. If you display genuine interest, they will likely be a great contact in the future. Remember that professionals like having innovative young people in their network too, just in case they are hiring or branching out to start their own company.

Kenna Griffin publishes a round-up of media jobs weekly, so read her blog. Be okay with moving. Make friends. Go to graduate school. Learn how to love technology. Get a nice suit. Do your nails. Stop saying um. Be bold. Be okay with working at a bookstore from time to time. You will be good at life. And when someone very close to you discovers a life threatening illness, you will be the one to understand troves of data, outcome statistics, doctors records, clinical trial guidelines, test results and care management networks. You will just get it because you studied information analysis in college. Your parents will say, assuredly, thank you. It will be worth it and they will be proud of you. Trust me on this.

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Missed Part 1? Catch up here.
Stay tuned for Part 3: What Gear Do You Need to Make Great Film? coming soon…
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Beatriz Wallace is currently a Visiting Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her friends do cool stuff like take pictures of pets that need adopting at animal shelters, make movies with famous people and tell stories that matter. She worked at Cellar Stories Bookstore and Time Magazine after she graduated from Amherst College with a degree in writing and photography. She has a Master’s Degree in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. She’s from New Orleans and she’s kind of scrappy. She might be a juicer, a yoga teacher or a software developer next. And she’s okay with that. To see her work, visit www.beatrizwallace.com, follow her on Twitter @bigmuddyheart or friend her on Facebook (Beatriz Wallace).

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